In our book Finding the Right Strategy: How to Grow Sales in a Title Insurance Company, we examine strategies and tactics to market and sell title insurance products and services. The following are excerpts from Chapter 11, Creating A Sales Plan.
We have been talking to title agents for years about the importance of a written formal Sales Plan. Often smaller agents believe they do not have the time or expertise to put a plan together. Sales staff will say they know in their heads how they should be allocating their time and resources and do not need to write a plan.
We believe both of these assumptions are false.
First, a written plan does not need to be complicated or difficult to put together and it can be customized to fit the needs of any size agent or company.
Second, there is no plan unless it is written.
A written plan should provide a blue-print for sales activity throughout the year. Think of it as a road map to guide how time and resources are managed. Of course having a written plan does not guarantee success and much of the real work with any plan is in implementation, management, and follow-through. We have seen many a plan once developed sit in a drawer and gather dust.
We recommend to our clients to manage their sales plan throughout the year. Sales managers should routinely sit with their sales staff to review plan progress, assess results, and make modifications to the plan as results indicate.
Chapter 11 in Finding the Right Strategy provides a simple sales plan format to follow. It is not form driven. The CBA sales plan format includes:
- Executive Summary
- Market Analysis
- Customer Analysis
- Sales Forecast
- Goals and Objectives
- Strategies and Tactics
In our experience, the best plans are a combination of executive and sales staff working together. This work can be done in stages and by different people or groups. We often like to get production staff involved because they bring an important operational focus to considerations regarding customers and sales strategies and tactics. Sales plan writing typically starts in the fall of each year so that a final version of the plan can be ready for implementation by the first of the new year.
What follows below are brief excerpts regarding each of the major sections of the CBA sales plan format. Greater detailed information about the content recommended for each section can be found in Chapter 11.
The Executive Summary: This is the last section you write after all the other sections are completed. It should be approximately one page and provide a concise summary of the important analyses, projections and sales strategies and tactics for the coming year. It is meant to be a synopsis for primarily owners and executive staff who need a quick reference point.
Market Analysis: This section includes a description of your market geography and size, market demographics, your market position, relevant market trends and expected market growth. The Market Analysis section is the first of the three analysis sections (the Customer Analysis is second and the Competitive Analysis is third). These three analysis sections act to shape your thinking and decision making for the sales forecast you will make for the new year, your goals and objectives, and the sales strategies and tactics you will formulate.
Customer Analysis: If there is one section in our sales plan format that we identify as perhaps most important it is this one. In the Customer Analysis you provide detailed information about the performance of the different customer groups you are serving or will possibly serve in the future: current customers, new customers and prospects, customer growth targets, and lost customers.
The back bone of the customer analysis section is an 80/20 analysis. Performing an 80/20 analysis will help you identify which customers give you approximately 80 percent of your revenue or orders but just as important will help identify which customers should be targets for increased business opportunities in the New Year.
Competitive Analysis: Many people refer to this section as a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Thus, the purpose of this section is to assess your own strengths and weaknesses in addition to those of your main competitors. If you are strong and a competitor is weak in a certain area you have a potential advantage. Where you are weak and a competitor is strong you face a potential threat and have a disadvantage.
Sales Forecast: The Sales Forecast is the second summary section in the plan and is placed right after the Executive Summary. It is completed after you finish the three analyses sections and is designed to provide a quick snapshot of your sales projections and revenues for the coming year. It provides greater detail than the Executive Summary but does not need to be more than a page in length. Your sales forecast can be broken down by customer segment (type) and or the market or geographic areas you serve.
Goals and Objectives: People are always confused about the difference between goals and objectives. In the Goals and Objectives section we write overall financial goals and objectives, customer segment goals and objectives and objectives for current customer growth targets, prospects and lost customers Goals are your broadest outcomes, e.g., total revenue. Objectives are simply smaller sub-steps or result increments we identify. Think of objectives as the results that must be achieved to accomplish an overall goal.
A great table to include in this section is one that shows individual customer revenue and order results for one or more previous years compared to the new customer objectives for the coming year.
Strategies and Tactics: Strategies and tactics describe ‘how’ you will achieve the goals and objectives you have identified in the previous section of your plan. In essence, strategies and tactics explain the process you will follow to achieve the goals and objectives you set. Strategies are the overarching concepts that describe how you will achieve a goal, tactics are the specific actions you will perform to implement a strategy. Typically we write several tactics for each major strategy we identify.
Here is an example:
Strategy: Promote the new technology projects of the company.
Tactic #1: Market mobile order application.
Tactic #2: Schedule training with customers on new mobile app.
Tactic #3: Use social media to promote company services and products.
The final section in Chapter 11 in Finding the Right Strategy focuses on implementation steps. We have listed a month by month quarter by quarter timetable to follow for both writing your sales plan in the fall and implementing\following through on your plan during the year.
If you would like to find out more about CBA, you can contact either Chris Hanson or Roger Lubeck at www.cbaltd.biz
To read more about creating a Sales Plan order Finding the Right Strategy: How to Grow Sales in a Title Insurance Company.
To read about employee behavior and managing performance order Finding The Right Path: A Guide To Leading and Managing A Title Insurance Company.
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